Norris, Harrell, and 3 days of peril


The Astros starting rotation is the worst in the American League. Despite Bud Norris and Lucas Harrell, the team’s starters still rank last in ERA, homeruns allowed per 9 innings, and innings pitched per start. They are also next-to-last in walks allowed per nine innings.

The Astros are 5-5 in games started by Norris and Harrell. Conversely, they are 2-11 in games started by Philip Humber, Erik Bedard, and Brad Peacock. The three newcomers have have failed to improve a rotation that was in serious need of a boost. It was hoped that Humber and Bedard could provide a bit of veteran leadership and eat up some innings for  the Astros young pitching staff. I can’t accurately say how much leadership they’ve provided, but their consumption of innings has been less than desirable, to say the least.

Humber was good in his first three starts, but has been horrible in his last two. Bedard is still behind schedule after suffering a gluteal strain in Spring Training. The veteran lefty has been on a pitch count, thus limiting his innings totals as he continues to build arm strength. Peacock won the fifth starter’s job out of Spring Training but has struggled to get the job done in the regular season. He has failed to get through the fifth inning in three of his four starts as an Astro.

Should any of these guys be in a Major League rotation? Not if they continue to pitch like they have over the past few starts. All three of these guys were basically castoffs from other organizations. Humber was waived, Bedard was released, and Peacock was part of the Jed Lowrie trade. Now, we are starting to see why these guys were so readily available.

Is there still hope for any of these guys? Maybe. Although it would appear as though Bedard and Humber are nothing more than temporary place holders in the rotation. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like help is on the way any time soon. Jarred Cosart has pitched well at AAA and could be called up. Jordan Lyles has continued to struggle. Dallas Keuchel is about the only other option, and we already know that he wouldn’t be much of an improvement.

Brad Peacock (Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)

Paul Clemens and Jose Cisnero are also possibilities. But both have been valuable additions to a beleaguered Astros bullpen and could be more valuable in their current roles. Left-hander Travis Blackley could also be moved into the rotation. But, like Bedard, it would take a while to get him stretched out and ready to go deep into games. Elbow injuries to John Ely and Alex White have obviously taken a toll on what appeared to be a rotation with plenty of depth.

Astros manager Bo Porter has said that he will not make any changes to the rotation in the immediate future. Given his lack of options, that is somewhat understandable. But, as a fan, I feel like something needs to be done sooner rather than later. Brad Peacock gets the start tonight in Boston. If he has another bad outing I would be hard pressed to keep him in the rotation.

Right now it looks like we can get used to what’s been going on so far this season. The Astros have about a 50/50 chance to win for the two days when Norris and Harrell start — then it’s three days of repeated face-palming.